The University of Alabama

UA Honors Six Distinguished Engineering Fellows

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama College of Engineering honors six alumni of the College by inducting them into its class of 2012 Distinguished Engineering Fellows.

Robert P. Barnett of Cropwell; Milton Arthur Davis Jr. of Birmingham, Edward Day VI of Ocean Springs, Miss.; Eric F. Edwards of Madison; David E. Roberts Jr. of Houston and John Daniel Ward of Huntsville will receive the top honor the College presents at a ceremony March 31 at the NorthRiver Yacht Club.

Robert P. Barnett – BSCE ’68, MSCE ’71

Robert “Bob” Barnett’s legacy as an engineer will live on in the buildings and structures he has dedicated his life’s work to constructing. For more than 25 years, Barnett has earned national praise and respect as a structural engineer at the helm of his own company.

Barnett graduated from The University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1968 and master’s degree in civil engineering in 1971. He landed his first job in 1969 as a structural engineer with Southern Prestressed Concrete of Pensacola, Fla., and two years later accepted a position with Paragon Engineering in Leeds. Ten years later he became a partner of Hudson, Ball, Marlin, Barnett & Associates in Birmingham.

In 1986, Barnett struck out on his own, forming Barnett Associates in Pell City. At one point, the company was a one-man, eight-computer operation, designing projects worth tens of millions of dollars annually for numerous architectural firms and general contractors throughout Alabama.

Some major projects Barnett designed included an upper deck on Jordan-Hare Stadium at Auburn University, the Tuscaloosa City Hall Annex, the Moody Music Building at UA, Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover, the Public Safety Building in Homewood, East Alabama Medical Center and residence halls at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Jacksonville State University and Birmingham-Southern College. In 2005, the firm was renamed Barnett, Jones, Wilson LLC.

A registered Professional Engineer in 17 states and a Certified Structural Engineer through the Structural Engineering Certification Board, Barnett is deeply involved in the advancement of structural engineering and the enhancement of his profession and community. He has served in prominent leadership roles nationally in the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Concrete Institute, the American Council of Engineering Companies and the Council of American Structural Engineers, establishing new design standards and structural code provisions. He is past president of the American Consulting Engineering Companies of Alabama and the Council of the American Structural Engineers of Alabama.

Barnett is a member the Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Advisory Board. Civically, he was president of the Pell City Chamber of Commerce, president of the Eastern Service District of the Boy Scouts of America, member of the board of directors for the St. Vincent Health System and president of the Alabama Hospital Trustee Association. He is also a graduate of Leadership Alabama.

Barnett and his wife, Carol, are generous donors to UA and have established a permanent fund named the Robert P “Bob” Barnett Endowed Scholarship in the College of Engineering.

Bob and Carol Barnett live in Cropwell. They have two sons.

Milton Arthur Davis Jr. – BSCHE ’81

Milton Arthur Davis Jr. is one of the top performing business development managers in his industry with 30 years of progressively challenging experience. For the past 12 years, Davis has used his engineering expertise on the business development end of construction and process engineering.

Davis graduated from The University of Alabama in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Later, Davis earned an MBA from The University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1992. Davis also completed the construction management program at Texas A&M University in 1996.

After graduating from UA in 1981, Davis worked for MW Kellogg/Rust as a systems control engineer on several projects. He obtained his Professional Engineering license and eventually moved into project management. During his 15 years with the company, Davis served on projects involving Weyerhaeuser, AlliedSignal and Eastman Chemical.

In 1996, Davis joined BE&K Engineering and Construction Co. For the next three years, he served as project manager for Vulcan Chloralkali, Hexcel and Westlake projects. He then devoted a year as the plant engineering manager at Hexcel in Decatur. Following his work with Hexcel, Davis served with BE&K as principal manager of business development from 2000 to 2011. He organized the development and implementation of strategic marketing plans for client companies in the process industry. Davis excelled in the business side of the industry and became highly respected among his colleagues.

In 2011, Davis accepted a position as director of industrial business development with B.L. Harbert International in Birmingham. His current responsibilities include market analysis, sales, strategic planning, client presentation, risk analysis and contract negotiations.

Throughout his career, Davis has received several honors and awards including UA Centennial Fellow Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2010, 2007 Fellow of the chemical and biological engineering department and was selected as Engineer of the Year in 1996 by the National Society of Black Engineers.

Davis is a member of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Advisory Board, the Industry Advisory Board of The University of Alabama in Huntsville and is current chair-elect of the Capstone Engineering Society Board. He is also co-chair of the Economic Development Committee of Manufacture Alabama, member of St. Vincent’s Foundation and member of St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church.

Davis and his wife, Alpha, are generous donors to the Capstone and have established The Alpha and Milton Davis Jr. Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship is given to entering freshman enrolled in the College of Engineering.

Davis and Alpha live in Birmingham with their two children.

Edward Day VI – BSME ’82

Edward Day VI has dedicated 29 years of engineering expertise to Southern Co. in nuclear power, wholesale power marketing, engineering, procurement and construction, and he is part of the company’s management council as president and chief executive officer of Mississippi Power.

After receiving his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from The University of Alabama in 1982, Day joined Southern Co. as an engineer in the Hatch Nuclear Project. After taking on roles of greater responsibility, he was named engineering group supervisor, mechanical design, in 1990. Two years later, he was named assistant to the executive vice president, engineering.

In 1996, he began 14 years with Southern Company Generation, a business unit of Southern Co. He started as wholesale business development manager for Southern Wholesale Energy in 1996, and he was promoted to director of business development in 1998 and again to vice president of business development in 2001.

Two years later, he became executive vice president of engineering and construction services for Southern Company Generation and was responsible for engineering, procurement and construction services for the fossil and hydro generating plant fleet.

Day was named Mississippi Power’s 11th president and chief executive officer Aug. 13, 2010. With more than 1,300 employees, Mississippi Power provides retail electric service to approximately 190,000 customers across 23 counties in the southeastern region of the state. The company also sells wholesale power to multiple electric power associations and cooperatives in Mississippi. Under Day’s leadership, Mississippi Power broke ground on construction of an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle power plant in Kemper County, Miss., a $2.4 billion investment, to meet growing energy demands.

He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Samford University in 1991, and he is a 2004 graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University.

Day is involved in the community, serving on the boards of the Hancock Bank, INFINITY Science Center, the Mississippi Nature Conservancy, the Gulf Coast Business Council and the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. He also serves on the boards of the Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Energy Policy Institute and the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development. Day is a member of The University of Alabama College of Engineering Leadership Board and the United Way de Tocqueville Society. Additionally, Day also serves on the Mississippi Main Street Association Leadership Council.

Day lives in Ocean Springs, Miss., with his, Laurie, and three children.

Eric F. Edwards – BSAE ’87

Eric F. Edwards began his engineering service with the United States Army as a student at The University of Alabama College of Engineering, and he has since contributed 29 years of knowledge and commitment to the country through aviation and missile research for the Army. In 2010, he was named director of the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, which develops and supports technology for use by the war fighter.

Edwards began his service in 1983 as an engineering trainee with the Missile Intelligence Agency through the College’s Cooperative Education Program before receiving his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Capstone in 1987. After graduation, he continued with the agency analyzing Soviet surface-to-air missiles and anti-satellite weapons.

In 1991, he moved to the Missile Command as a special projects engineer. Edwards was a senior systems engineer from 1993 till 1996 for the Joint Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Project Office before moving in 1997 to the NATO Medium Extended Air Defense Systems Management Agency as the technical lead of the Senior System Equipment Integration.

In 1999, Edwards earned his master’s of science management from the Florida Institute of Technology. In April 1999, he moved to the Utility Helicopters Project Office where he served as the chief engineer for the UH-60M Blackhawk Helicopter Program. From April 2002 to October  2004, Edwards served as deputy product manager with the Air Warrior Product Management Office, Comanche Project Management Office and the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Program.

He was activated as product manager for the UH-60A/L helicopter, responsible for the production, fielding, transformation and recapitalization of the U.S. Army’s fleet. In June 2007, he was named project manager, Lower Tier Project Office with responsibility for the PATRIOT and JTAGS weapons systems and the U.S. MEADS National Product Office. About 15 months later, he was selected for the Senior Executive Service and named executive director of the Aviation and Missile Command’s Integrated Material Management Center.

In May 2010, Edwards was named director of the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center. The AMRDEC is the Army’s hub for research, development and engineering technology and services for aviation and missile platforms across the lifecycle. In his current role, he is the top civilian authority and scientific and engineering expert on research and development for aviation and missiles in the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. The center has about 7,400 military, Army civilian and contractor employees with annual revenues of $2.9 billion.

Edwards has received the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, the Superior Civilian Service Award, the Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Order of Saint Michael Bronze Award, the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara, the Ancient Order of Saint Barbara and was selected as part of the Competitive Development Group in 2001.

Edwards lives in Madison, with his wife, Jennifer, and two sons.

David E. Roberts Jr. – BSMinE (Pet.) ’83

As a son of an engineer, David E. Roberts Jr. saw his father solving problems around the world instilling a passion that today finds Roberts, as Marathon Oil’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, leading the company on a path of sustainable growth and value creation, while also focusing personally as an industry leader on the critical challenge of achieving greater energy security for the world’s energy consumers.

Roberts has worked or directed activities on five continents and managed some of the world’s largest oilfields and oilfield construction projects.

Roberts received his bachelor’s degree in mineral engineering, petroleum option, from The University of Alabama in 1983. After graduating, Roberts joined Texaco Inc. and worked for 18 years in a variety of engineering and management assignments in the United States. During his time as a practicing engineer, Roberts was professionally registered in both Alabama and Texas.

Roberts’ Texaco career included work assignments in East and West Texas, Houston, New Orleans, Bakersfield, Calif., and finally in White Plains, N.Y., where he served as director of strategic management, responsible for the development and management of strategic direction, plans, competitive analyses and performance management programs for Texaco’s worldwide upstream business. In 2001, following Texaco’s merger with Chevron Corp., Roberts was assigned as adviser to the vice chairman in San Francisco.

From 2003 to 2006, Roberts relocated to the United Kingdom and served as executive vice president and managing director for BG Group PLC, the leading global natural gas company, with responsibilities for BG operations and business interests in Asia and the Middle East that included exploration and production assets, power generation and gas transmission and distribution.

In 2006, Roberts joined Marathon Oil Corp. as senior vice president of business development, and, in 2008, he became executive vice president in charge of worldwide upstream business. He was named chief operating officer in 2011.

Roberts serves on the board of directors of Flowserve Corp., a global leader in the manufacture and aftermarket services of flow control products, and he volunteers in Houston with the American Heart Association, the nationally recognized Alley Theatre and The Arbor School, focused on serving special needs children. Roberts has previously served on the board of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

Roberts and his wife, Rebecca, are generous donors to the Capstone. In 2009, they established The David E. Roberts Jr. and Rebecca McKinney Roberts Endowed Scholarship in association with the Dallas-Wilcox Counties Alumni Chapter and the Houston Alumni Chapter, and in 2011 they established the Roberts Family Endowed Engineering Scholarship.

David and Rebecca Roberts live in Houston. They have two sons who are married.

John Daniel Ward – BSCE ’58

John D. Ward is recognized as one of the best fabrication engineers of his time. Throughout his career, Ward gained the respect and trust of his colleagues as he worked hard to succeed. He became regarded as one of the foremost experts in the design and fabrication of pressure vessels, in accordance with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers code.

Ward grew up on a small farm in Bibb County and, later, Livingston. After graduating high school in 1949, Ward joined the U.S. Army and served for two years in Korea, assuming the rank of sergeant first class. Ward then returned to Alabama, landing at a job at BF Goodrich Tire Manufacturing Plant in Tuscaloosa. He got married and started his family before returning to school.

Ward graduated from The University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1958. While at the Capstone, Ward was a member of Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon honor societies while working full time at night at the tire plant. He graduated near the top of his class.

During his senior year, Ward accepted a job with Dixie Steel & Supply Co. in Tuscaloosa. After graduation in 1958, he was transferred to the company’s plant in Panama City, Fla., to be chief engineer until 1962. From 1962 to 1973, Ward worked for Industrial Piping Supply Co. in Charlotte, N.C., starting as fabrication engineer and rising through the ranks to serve for three years as vice president.

In 1973, Ward joined the Fabrication Engineering Service Co., or FESCO, in Charlotte, N.C. Ward served as vice president for several years. In this role, Ward was responsible for all sales, engineering production and quality control.

In 1982, during the depths of a recession, Ward and his brother Don Ward, a Distinguished Engineering Fellow, founded Ward Tank and Heat Exchanger Corp. John Ward served as president and CEO of the company from 1982 to 1996. Since its establishment, Ward Tank Corp. has prospered and grown into one of the leading manufacturers of stainless steel and nickel alloy tanks in the eastern United States and established in Houston. Ward remained with the company until his retirement in 1996, but he continues to serve as chairman of the board. His name and legacy still contribute to the success of the company. His nephew, Jon Garrett Ward, now serves as president, leading the company on its founding principles.

Over the years, Ward has received many honors and awards including the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year and Business Partnership Award and Entrepreneur of 1993.

Ward and his wife, Jean, are generous donors to UA and established the John and Jean Ward Endowed Scholarship in the College of Engineering.

The Wards now live in Huntsville. They have four daughters, 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s fully accredited College of Engineering has more than 3,300 students and more than 100 faculty. In the last eight years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater scholars, Hollings scholars and Portz scholars.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.